NHL Week in Review (November 8-14)

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It is a debate that never seems to end in the NHL as scoring seems to be the one constant concern throughout every season.

The season is only a month old and yet already the talk about the goal scoring drought has become one of the main stories in the league.

The lack of scoring has been reported on throughout the start of this season as scoring is in fact down so far in the league.

The goals per game dropped to 2.67 this week after the last four seasons had over 2.70 in the last our seasons.

That small amount of difference has plenty of people in a panic over the lack of goal scoring the NHL.

That panic has caused many to begin discussion over what they can do to increase scoring in the league.

In one theory the best move is to reduce the size of goalie equipment to provide more openings for goal scorers.

The other theory is that the goals themselves need to be enlarged to ensure that all of those shots that hit the post and crossbar will go into the net.

The problem with these or any other option to increase scoring is that they have all been done already.

Before the 2013-14 season the NHL was debating the same issue and they decided to make some changes that they hoped were going to increase scoring.

They reduced the goalie pads in hopes that it would provide less coverage by the goalies and more openings for the players.

The nets were also changed when the NHL reduced the size making them shallower in hopes of providing more space.

The net changes created more room behind the net in hopes that players could get more room to work behind the net and wraparound goals were going to be easy.

Both changes were supposed to be the changes they needed to increase the scoring but in practice not much changed.

There was a slight increase in goals per game from 2.72 to 2.74 but it wasn’t enough to really say that the changes made a massive difference in the game.

There is a reason for this though and that is that the NHL is and always will be a defensive game.hockey-sidebar

Yes the NHL lends itself to offence with the speed of the game always increasing and better offensive players entering the league every year.

But when a game lends itself to offence the best way to win is figuring out ways to shut down the offence.

That is what the best coaches in the game can do as they figure out ways to stop the best scorers in the game and ensure that nothing gets through their defence.

When something does get through though they have another obstacle to overcome in the goaltenders who are only getting better with every year.

In the height of goal scoring in the 1980s, NHL goalies were nowhere near as technical as they are now.

It was often a forgotten position and more often than not the goalie stood in the net trying to kick shots away.

The introduction of the butterfly technique in goaltending changed everything and since then the goaltender position has evolved.

Goalies are getting better and although reducing the pads may require some adjustment the fact is they will adjust and figure out new ways to keep the puck out of the net.

This obsession with goal scoring is beginning to get old and the panic surrounding it has become a distraction to the great defensive systems and goaltending play that is in the NHL right now.

Yes every fan loves goals but no changes, unless they are extreme and destroy the integrity of the game, will make goals increase to the levels of the 1980s.

That time has passed and as defenceman and goalies continue to evolve goals will remain constant so just enjoy the league for what it is, the place where the best players in a fast-paced sport look to score with every goal meaning more.

Overtime
(More Thoughts on this week in hockey)

Firebirds Fiasco
The Flint Firebirds have not started well in the OHL and as a result they fired their entire coaching staff leading the entire roster to threaten to quite if they were not rehired, the coaching staff was back this week

Abdelkador Locked up
The Red Wings have locked up another one of their home-grown talents signing Justin Abdelkador to a 7-year, $29.75-million contract that should keep Abdelkador in Detroit for the rest of his career

A New Class
This week marked the introduction of a new class into the Hockey Hall of Fame with a list that included Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Phil Housley in one of the greatest groups to enter the hall

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Key Scores:
Minnesota Wild 5 – 3 Winnipeg Jets
– It is a fairly new rivalry for the NHL but one that is only getting better with time as the two teams who are only separated by the US-Canada border went at it again this week with the Wild coming out on top

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 – 3 Montreal Canadiens (SO)
– The Penguins have not been their usual selves with a mediocre start to the year but they showed that they are still ready to compete as they beat the best team in the league in Montreal who took a point from the game

New York Rangers 6 – 1 St. Louis Blues
– Two of the top teams in the league faced off and the Rangers continued their strong start to the season beating the Blues convincingly and remaining on top of the Metropolitan division while the Blues took a tough loss as they try to keep up with Dallas

Colorado Avalanche 6 – 1 Montreal Canadiens
– Patrick Roy returned to Montreal once again and this time had plenty of success as the Avs put up six goals against the best team in the league, albeit a team without their all-star goaltender in Carey Price

Next Week:
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Rangers (Sunday November 15th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The two largest NHL markets will face off but this year both are on polar opposite of the standings as the Leafs are standing in the basement as they undergo adjustments and the Rangers have risen to the top of their division with strong start

Arizona Coyotes vs. Montreal Canadiens (Thursday November 19th; 7:30 pm ET)
– The Coyotes may not be the best team in the west but they are showing plenty of signs of progress with a young group and now they get a true test against the best team in the NHL as Montreal looks to continue a strong start to the year

Los Angeles Kings vs. Detroit Red Wings (Friday November 20th; 7:00 pm ET)
– The Kings have quietly risen to the top of the standings in the pacific division and now they take on the Red Wings looking to stay on top while Detroit tries to show that they can compete with the best in the league

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks (Saturday November 21st; 10:00 pm ET)
– The Blackhawks and Canucks were forming a fairly good rivalry after they faced off in the 2011 playoffs and again in 2012 in two very big series and now they face-off again in the regular season with Chicago trying to get out of the basement

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